common explanation is that one is fascinated with evil and evildoers because,
through them, one vicariously expresses the repressed, dark, and evil parts of
one's own personality. Evildoers, according to this theory, represent the
"shadow" nether lands of our selves and, thus, they constitute our
antisocial alter egos. Being drawn to wickedness is an act of rebellion against
social strictures and the crippling bondage that is modern life. It is a mock
synthesis of our Dr. Jekyll with our Mr. Hyde. It is a cathartic exorcism of
our inner demons.
even a cursory examination of this account reveals its flaws.
from being taken as a familiar, though suppressed, element of our psyche, evil
is mysterious. Though preponderant, villains are often labeled
"monsters" - abnormal, even supernatural aberrations. It took Hanna
Arendt two thickset tomes to remind us that evil is banal and bureaucratic, not
fiendish and omnipotent.
our minds, evil and magic are intertwined. Sinners seem to be in contact with
some alternative reality where the laws of Man are suspended. Sadism, however
deplorable, is also admirable because it is the reserve of Nietzsche's Supermen,
an indicator of personal strength and resilience. A heart of stone lasts longer
than its carnal counterpart.